photo: Craftsman from Alan Davey's collection
I have written about swords and words before here.a short sword
In Japanese the word for a real sword is shinken. And the same word is used commonly now in Japanese to mean serious.
There are a few sword metaphors used in modern Japanese.
One is tantou chokunyuu. It means to be straightforward or direct.
Another phrase is ittouryoudan. It means to cut in two with a single stroke. So it is used to mean doing something decisively. In English we have a similar saying: to cut the Gordian knot.
We use a few words from swords and other weapons in English. We look daggers. Or fall on our swords. We talk about rapier wit. Or a double-edged sword. Cutting words or pointed remarks. Or a sharp tongue. Or losing our edge.
In the above quote from John Dryden Curtana was the name of the sword of King Edward the Confessor of England. It was a symbol of mercy. It had no point.
And budo training should always be shinken. Train as seriously as if you were using a live blade.
William Shakespeare, The Complete Works
John Dryden, The Hind and the Panther
Haiku by Issa
All blade work is to cut through something.
Perhaps the most important thing to cut through is the illusions created by our ignorance?
Perhaps we need to move, see, think, and feel as if we are always holding a blade?
Compliments and appreciation.
Good thoughts! One of the meanings of harai dachi with a shinken is a cutting away, or a sweeping away of impurities, in the sense of an exorcism. Practice with a shinken requires focus and it challenges us in beneficial ways.
Thanks Lynn. I really like your comment about cutting through the illusions created by our ignorance.
Thank you for the thoughtful comment, Robert. You are right. A shinken requires focus and concentration. And at another level we humans have continually to cut away pride and ego and all our other negative parts.
And as long as we're talking about swords and words, I am forever fascinated by the dual nature of the English word "cleave."
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